MARTIN AND MORRIS MUSIC COMPANY RECORDS, 1930-1985, #492
Scope and Content Note
The Martin and Morris Company Records date from ca. 1930 to 1985 and document a neglected part of the American music historical record. The collection is particularly important because of the company's contributions to the field of Gospel music. According to Horace Boyer (in We'll Understand It Better....), Martin and Morris Music Company was the only music house that would publish compositions by others than themselves during the heyday years of Gospel music (ca.1945-1965). From the collection it can be noted also that Gospel music in the United States was a grass roots activity. Insight as to its development and distribution can be gained through study of the firm's records.
Some of the more well known musicians whose compositions were published by Martin and Morris include: William H. Brewster, Dorothy Love Coates, Lucie Campbell, Alex Bradford, Sam Cook, and Raymond Rasberry. In addition to the noted musicians, several lesser-known artists and members of churches and pastorates from around the nation were published by Martin and Morris and their music was distributed throughout the country and around the world.
Included in the collection are printed Gospel sheet music and music song books, photographs, and business records and ephemera that illustrate the company's business operations. The collection is arranged in six series.
Series 1: CORRESPONDENCE, 1941 1980, consists of four document boxes of materials dating from 1941 through 1980. The correspondence relates to arrangement, cost, and publication of songs from other music companies and individual composers and songwriters. Also included in this series is information pertaining to copyright of song titles, settlements of law suits, and other correspondence concerning disagreements between Martin and Morris and songwriters. The correspondence is arranged by year, and thereafter alphabetically by last names within each period.
Series 2: BUSINESS And FINANCIAL RECORDS, 1940 1978, documents the ordering, sales, publication, and distribution processes of the Martin and Morris Music Company, Inc. Consisting of four document and three flat storage boxes, the materials include bank books, order books, ledgers, and journals. Also contained within this series is one document box of materials consisting of agreements and contracts between Martin and Morris and others; copyright and permissions documents; company invoices; corporate income tax returns; financial statements, and business advertising ephemera, such as programs, calendars, catalogs, and receipts. Many of the books ledgers and journals in this series had bits of paper stuck between the pages. They have been filed in "ephemera folders" of the same number as the book. Items are tagged with information indicating original locations.
Series 3: SHEET MUSIC, ca. 1930 1985, consists of nine document boxes and one flat storage box of song sheets in octavo and full size. Dating from the 1940's to the 1980's, the series comprises music published by Martin and Morris (3A), music distributed by Martin and Morris (3B), and works produced and distributed by other publishers (3C and 3D). Materials are arranged by publisher. Under each publisher, materials are arranged alphabetically by title.
There are two boxes of song titles in Subseries 3A: Music Published by Martin and Morris. Some of the more recognizable ones are: Go down Moses, God be with you till we meet again, I couldn't hear nobody pray, I want two wings, I'm Climbin' Up on the rough side of the mountain, Lead me, guide me, No cross, no crown, Stand by me, What do you know about Jesus (He's alright). Composers and performers include Doris Akers, Rev. James Cleveland, Thomas Dorsey, Mahalia Jackson, C. A. Tindley.
Subseries 3B: Publishers Distributed by Martin and Morris is in two parts. The first is arranged by publisher, including the Lion, Savgos, and Savoy companies. The second comprises miscellaneous copyright owners & publishers distributed by Martin and Morris. Many of the titles in this section were arranged by Kenneth Morris. Included in this group, which is arranged by title, are compositions performed by artists such as Alex Bradford, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, AndraÇ Crouche, Rev. J. G. Moore, The O'Neal Twins, The Raymond Rasberry Singers, and Donald Vails. Some illustrations of the above groups are included in this section.
Representative publishers included in Subseries 3C: Other Publishers are: Margaret Aikens, Boosey & Hawkes, Bowles, Lucie Campbell, Theodore Frye, Frazier-Cleveland, Roberta Martin, Sallie Martin, Chas. Pace, Theodore Presser, Raymond Rasberry, and Dorothy Akers. The oversized materials from this series appear in Box 9.
Subseries 3D: Miscellaneous Publishers consists of compositions from publishing companies that have three or less sheet music titles appearing in the Martin and Morris Music Company Records. The compositions are arranged alphabetically by title. Compositions range in date from 1930's to the 1980's and include works written or performed by such greats as the Clara Ward Singers, the Davis Sisters, The Golden Tone Singers, Cleavant Derricks, and Eddie Simmons. There are dozens of titles included in this section. Among them are: He is my all and all, If I can help somebody, and Rock of Ages. Also included in this section are Christmas titles and some pop tunes. The oversized materials from this series appear in Box 9 which consists of folio sized music. Among the composers is Thomas Dorsey. Donald Vails is numbered among the performers. Many of the pieces in folder 2 contain color illustrations. A listing of titles and composers also has been compiled for this folder and is included therein.
Series 4: SONG BOOKS, ca. 1930 1985, consists of 5 document boxes of song books in octavo and full size. Dating from the 1940's to the 1980's, the series comprises music published or distributed by Martin and Morris (4A), and works produced and distributed by other publishers (4B and 4C). Materials are arranged by publisher. When needed, under each publisher, materials are listed alphabetically by title. Composers and performers include Alex Bradford, James Cleveland, The Davis Sisters, Sallie Martin, The Roberta Martin Singers, The Singing Caravans, and The Clara Ward Singers. There are lesson books included in the boxes marked Other Publishers, and the final box of miscellaneous publishers includes lesson books for jazz and blues piano, and guitar. The oversized materials from this series appear in Box 9.
Series 4C: Miscellaneous Publishers, comprises miscellaneous copyright owners and publishers, and is arranged by title. It consists of song books from publishing companies that have three or less titles appearing in the Martin and Morris Music Company Records. The books are arranged in alphabetical order by publisher.
Series 5: ADVERTISING PHOTOGRAPHS, nd., contains photos that were often submitted for publication on the covers of music or flyers or other advertising materials distributed by the Martin and Morris Music Company. This half document box of materials includes photos of Kenneth Morris, Joe May, the Spirit of Memphis Quartette, the Raymond Rasberry Singers, the Singing Caravan, and Martin & Morris Studios' personnel, among others. Materials are undated, and some remain unidentified.
Series 6: ADVERTISING EPHEMERA, ca. 1935 - 1979, the final series of the Martin and Morris Music Company Records, also comprises one half document box. It contains ephemera such as newspaper clippings, calendars, publicity materials, and programs. Click here to go to provenance.
Revised: January 31, 2007